Like many Americans, Mary and I (Bill) have been in a constant struggle to maintain a healthy weight and manage my cholesterol and blood pressure - Mary's BP and Cholesterol were OK. Over they years we've tried all the diets and while we did achieve short term results, nothing worked over the long term.
The last straw for me was when I saw the attached picture from Canada Day 2005 when we were cruising in British Columbia. That started us on a quest to "clean up our act".
By the summer of 2008, we had gotten only half way to our goal. Plus my doctor wanted me to go on Cholesterol drugs and upped my blood pressure medication. So a further reassessment was needed.
Fortunately in the San Francisco Bay area, there are two doctors who have taken a medically sound approach to health and weight management: Dr. John McDougall and Dr. Dean Ornish. Both have websites with information on their programs: http://www.drmcdougall.com/free.html, http://www.ornishspectrum.com/, and http://www.webmd.com/diet/ornish-diet-what-it-is
Since then we've discovered lots of other doctors and dietitians who endorsed this lifestyle, which is basically a plant based, whole food diet, with no added chemicals, fats and/or sweeteners. Some of these include: Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Dr. Michael Klaper, Jeff Novak (RD), Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Michael Klaper and many others. Today, this lifestyle diet is called an "SOS Free, Plant Based, Whole Food diet". SOS Free means no added Sugar, Oil, and Salt.
These lifestyle diet changes are medically sound and scientifically based. They originated by studying the diets of the healthiest world populations. Fundamentally, they are plant based, whole food diet, with no added chemicals, fats and/or sweeteners Yes, this is a vegan diet but we eat that way for health reasons. Animals are delicious (if prepared properly), just not healthy to eat!
Note that not all vegan diets qualify - many add lots of fats and sweeteners and use refined foods. We've found that we can eat as much as we want of the whole foods on the diet, without any portion control needed. The diet works because we're eating healthy vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and other plant based products.
We also exercise moderately when we can and started road bicycle riding in August 2012. We now average a bit over 100 miles a week on our bicycles. If you're interested, you can see our cycling information on Strava (a site for cyclists and runners). Bill's tracking is here and Mary's tracking is here.
As a result of changing to this lifestyle change, neither of us feel deprived. The results speak for themselves: our weight is down - 70 pounds for me, 55 pounds for Mary and I'm off all blood pressure, cholesterol and other medication. My blood pressure has gone from 180/110 to 120/70, My total cholesterol has gone from 260 to 150 and my blood sugar has gone from 110 to 74.
My mother's family has a long history of diabetes and this has helped me get out of the borderline zone. As an added bonus, We feel more energetic and alert than ever.
Unlike the other diets we tried that resulted in yo yo results, this is a lifestyle change that is easy to stick with.
But - it's a lifestyle, not a religion - so we've been know to still have a "feast" day occasionally - when we have a night out with friends. We just try to not do it too often.
Also, we did it without sacrificing flavor! Even with our Vegan recipe, we continued our winning streak of 4 Chili cook off wins out of four entries, in the Paradise Village and Zihuatanejo Z-fest Chili Cookoffs.
How are you doing? Are you overweight or obese? You can gauge your own risks by looking at your Body Mass Index (BMI). A good handy table is located here: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/bmi_tbl.pdf